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SD Seniors Urged to Research Vaccine Info


Thursday, February 4, 2021   

PIERRE, S.D. -- As South Dakota moves closer to allowing more seniors to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations, residents are urged to seek out as much information as possible.

Both the state and a key nonprofit say it helps eliminate confusion and avoid scams.

On Wednesday, the state health department announced beginning Monday next week, those 75 and older will be eligible for vaccinations, down from 80 and older.

South Dakota will keep lowering the age qualification by five years as more supplies come in.

Erik Gaikowski, state director for AARP South Dakota, said it's important to reach out to your local health department or health care provider to know the process.

"They're really your one-stop, first stop for getting scheduled for that vaccination," Gaikowski confirmed.

He noted getting information from these sources also can make you less susceptible to vaccine scams, which authorities say are on the rise nationally. Some include asking for money in exchange for a vaccination reservation.

AARP has a list of coronavirus vaccine resources on its website, and the state health department has launched an online tool to help South Dakotans figure out which priority group they are in.

Some states have run into obstacles in distributing their vaccines. National health experts say South Dakota's process has been relatively smooth, in part because of its smaller population.

Gaikowski added it also helps that residents have been generally eager to sign up for a shot, including his group's members.

"Being able to hug their grandkids or see friends and family, attend events, things of that nature, being out in public," Gaikowski outlined. "I think those are all things that are moving people forward in seeking that vaccination."

Opinions of South Dakota's rollout are far different from the decision last year to keep much of the state open for business and not adopt a statewide mask mandate. Many public-health experts said that was a factor in higher case and death totals going into the winter.

Meanwhile, AARP's resource page answers many other questions related to vaccinations for those who choose to get the shots, including any expenses, as well as a timeline between shots.

Disclosure: AARP South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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